Preparing for Difficult People During the Holidays

by Sharmon Coleman

Who is the Cousin Eddie in your family?  You know, the relative that drove everyone crazy in the Chevy Chase movie, Christmas Vacation.  If you’re not familiar with the movie, Cousin Eddie is a loudly obnoxious super hick with no manners.  I have a friend who laughingly says that if you don’t know who the Cousin Eddie is in your family, it’s probably you!

Holiday time is family time which means time spent with Cousin Eddies, like it or not.  Often, such interactions lead to tension in the air that might even erupt into heated debates and conflict.  Just as you prepare for Christmas, I’d like to encourage you to prepare for your time with those difficult family members.  

How to Prepare for Difficult Family Members:

Ask God to help you see him/her as He does.  We are all created in God’s image. His image might be harder to see in those whose words and actions are hurtful.  God calls us to love, so this particular prayer is one He delights to answer.

Ask God to put a guard over the door of your lips (Psalm 141:3).  Careless words can whip up a storm faster than you can blink.  God warns us of the power of the tongue in James 3:6, so again asking God to help you control your tongue is a request He will surely answer.

Really listen.  You might be surprised what you learn when you aren’t busy thinking of what to say in response. Plus, a wise woman once said, “Never have I regretted something I didn’t say.

If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.  If I had a dime for every time my mom told me this growing up, I would be a rich woman!  So, put every word through a kindness filter before saying it out loud.

Think of neutral topics to discuss or questions to ask.  The weather, traffic, work, sports, kids and hobbies are all safe topics. I would highly suggest avoiding politics, religion, & money.  

The reality is that we live in a fallen world, and the enemy loves to stir up strife within families in order to obliterate the gift God means for family to be.With a little preparation, you can do your part to make the holidays merry and bright!

Sharmon Colemman